‘Neuroactive City 2020’ works on the UN’s objectives (Obj.3). The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health 2016-2030 stresses that every child and adolescent have a right to physical and mental health and identifies adolescents as a key element for reaching the UN’s objectives. Nonetheless, mental health remains one of the most neglected health areas among our youth. Our project fosters entrepreneurship, innovation and an active search for solutions that involve young people in promoting their own physical and mental health.
Our methoology, ECO (Exploring, Creating, Offering) helps us to design and share our project. One of the most creative, innovative, and challenging goals that we had to face was to redesign the city. The pupils become promoters of mental health for the members of the community. We aimed to transform the spaces so that they favour children’s neurodevelopment. To this effect, our pupils are designing new parks and public spaces for young people. We are cooperating with both the Health Centre and the Centre for the Elderly in town to improve the evolution of patients that suffer from neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia. It is a real pleasure to get to work with different generations. Our youngest participants are focused on making a friendlier city, since social interaction improves mental health. All these initiatives become a powerful tool of innovation because they allow our pupils to suggest possible heath projects and actions and don’t limit their action to the projects suggested and designed by their teachers. Thus, they become active and involved citizens. This is why the project has been conceived with an approach that must be creative and attractive for young people. It is paramount that it generates initiatives that are designed by them, for them. They are brilliant at thinking outside the box.
The last stage is the one in which we evaluate the effectiveness of our actions. Assessment is carried out in collaboration with several experts on neuropsychology that participate as scientific advisors. Thus, we obtain vital information to discern the most effective actions and which aspects present room for improvement. This information will be the base upon which the Decalogue of Neuroactive Cities will be established. The Decalogue will offer results to other cities that wish to improve the mental health and welfare of its youngest citizens by becoming neuroactive cities.
Our community is completely convinced of the great transformative power that schools have. School is the group with the most participants and power to make the mental health and welfare of children and adolescents a priority. The key to achieving this project’s sustainability is how various social agents participate in it and provide value and support that expand our resources, so that its goals become a reality for everyone involved in it. ‘Neuroactive City 2020’ is a school-driven citizen science project, for which we have obtained the participation of local authorities (the City Council, the Health Centre), scientific institutions (the Descubre Foundation and the Research Group for the Application of Neuropsychology to Children of the University of Granada) and non-profit neurodevelopment centers (AISSE). The strength of community projects resides in the sum of the strengths of all the participants, who share a vision and a mission. The key to ensure a sustainable and viable project in different cities is partnerships (UN Goal 17).